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House Leaders Push For Short-Term Syringe Exchange Extension

By Brandon Smith, IPB News | Published on in Government, Health, Politics
Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) led the charge to create Indiana's syringe exchange programs. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)
Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) led the charge to create Indiana's syringe exchange programs. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Indiana House leaders say they’ll try to extend – by at least one year – local syringe exchange programs that are set to expire in 2021.

The programs are in danger of elimination after the Senate rejected an effort to extend them indefinitely.

Scott County, Indiana, was undergoing an HIV epidemic in 2015. Lawmakers responded by allowing the creation of a syringe exchange program, something eight other counties have since also implemented. And House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says those programs have been a success.

“The CDC and others have cited that as one of the reasons we were able to stem the tide,” Bosma says.

But the original legislation also eliminated the programs in state law in 2019, later extending it to July 2021. And when asked this session to extend the programs permanently, 27 Senate Republicans said no.

Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) led the charge to create syringe exchanges. He says now, he’s just hoping to keep them alive at least a little longer.

“I think that may be the best move at this point is to work on a compromise, to try to extend the sunset by one year rather than repealing it altogether,” Clere says.

Clere points out 82 percent of syringes given out by the programs were returned.

Contact Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.